moderated Day 2 Discussion Highlights #ediscussionday2

Nisha Singh


The second day of the e-discussion focused on sharing specific examples of norms change including specific tools and strategies that have been effective. Below are some highlights of the days discussion.


·       CARE’s Village Savings and Loan Associations’ (VSLA) that bring women together in groups of 15-20, has been at the center of its interventions that promote economic empowerment. Several of CARE’s program used the VSLA as a platform to build multiple capacities. For example, combining savings and credit activities with community-based adaptation has been effective at enhancing resilience, improving food security for adolescents and positively influence social norms that shape nutrition behaviors, especially those detrimental to the health of pregnant women and young children. An RCT study of CARE's VSLAs in Ghana, Malawi, and Uganda showed statistically significant increases in women's access to savings and loans, in women's business income and ownership, in food provision, and in women's influence over the household and business decisions

·         CARE also uses a community dialogues approach in several programs. These take place as part of the Social Analysis and Action (SAA), Engagement of Men and Boys as agents of Women’s Economic Empowerment, working with community level leaders to influence social norm change etc. This includes gender synchronized approaches such as the  Family Business Management Training (FBMT)which focuses on working with men and women, rather than just men or women alone t create a space for communication and dialogue between partners to recognize and jointly address problematic social norms within their own relationships and communities. At the community level the approach focuses on identifying key opinion makers, such as traditional or religious leaders, government officials and media personalities, and working with them to ensure the legitimacy of new information that might against the current norm

·         Grameen Foundation used an adapted Gender Dialogue approach in 3 countries and found that men and women appreciated the fact that an opportunity was created to have a difficult/complicated conversation. However, the methodology is time intensive and requires significant preparation and skilled facilitators

·        CARE’s Pathways project uses Farmer Field Schools to train women farmers on sustainable agriculture, nutrition, gender, market capacities and access to resources. Program results show that as a result of increased technical knowledge, women farmers have increased production, resulting in a shift in household dynamics with women becoming more respected within the household

·        Behavior change campaigns  that are developed based on a deep understanding to what motivates people can be a powerful way to shift entrenched norms. TEB Bank has been actively supporting women entrepreneurs since 2014 and is a leader in the SME sector in Turkey. While its bundle of financial and non-financial services includes norm-aware work-arounds, such as collateral-free loans, the bank is also more directly addressing gender norms that hold women back from full entrepreneurial and financial inclusion through a media campaign titled “What will people say”.

·       Mainstream media and television can be a powerful tool for creating behavior change to impact norms around taboo issues. One example is a TV show created by Kashf Foundation in Pakistan that focused on creating awareness about the issue of child sex abuse and importance of women’s economic empowerment and had significant impact at multiple levels including policy. A second example is from India and focused on the use of  positive deviance approach (a method based on observing positive deviants or individuals in a community whose uncommon but successful behaviors or strategies enable them to find better solutions to a problem than their peers, despite facing similar challenges and having no extra resources or knowledge than their peers). Oxfam had an interesting campaign around gender-based violence called We Can (End Violence Against Women), in a number of South Asian countries. It was a very ‘bottom-up’ campaign – focused on changing norms within reference groups and from there reaching out to wider society

·       A number of the examples shared highlight the need for partnerships between different actors and sometimes sectors. The seems to especially critical for moving beyond mere access to challenging gender norms that impede women’s financial inclusion. Examples of partnerships range from a digital sub-wallet innovation between a bank, a funder and an NGO to partnerships between media companies and a bank to develop a TV show focused on uptake of bank accounts in Kenya , to a DFI and Bank partnership focused on women in the SME market. Another interesting example was that of a commercial MNO, in collaboration with the Connected Women program from GSMA, to design an initiative that directly challenged men’s and women’s perceptions around mobile phone ownership. An example of cross-sectoral partnership includes Grameen Foundation's work in Benin  where the savings group NGO created a formal linkage with health providers to make sure all the linkages in the chain were completed: savings for health + linkage to health provider + gender dialogues (which the NGO facilitated

·        To address social norms at the level of client and communities, it is important to also understand the norms that shape staff behavior and perceptions and might require some norms shifts. Commercial actors such as MFI’s and banks don’t always have the incentive to focus on women. Working with the senior leadership at these institutions on gender diversity and inclusion can be a process of norms change and create an opportunity to break unconscious biases that work to limit women’s economic potential both as employees and clients

·         A growing number of studies in the field of behavioral science are examining factors that influence financial decisions. When financial service providers and organizations focus on client behavior and apply behavioral insights, they can develop better products and solution. We understand that women and men use financial services differently but translating these differences in preference (often driven by underlying norms) into good design has been a challenge.

Tomorrow, we will focus on  challenges in addressing and mesuring norms and the way forward . I look forward to your continued participation.

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